A Year from Now...

The World Exists For You...Build Therefore, Your Own World
–Ralph Waldo Emerson

That is the most motivating quote!

One day my Friend and I were talking thru email about our favorite place/space in the house to read or write or paint. Truly I haven’t such a space yet – and I told her so, but said I dreamed of an art studio in the attic (not our attic – I want one with windows), and she had me describe what it would be like.
A few emails later into this conversation she meant to encourage me thru her vision of what I’d told her -it was a little off from my own ideal, but she’s got a gift with words. What she wrote back was more than that, it also got me thinking...

What could I accomplish toward such a vision, and what might I attain for myself- what would it look like, a year from now?

Because of her vision, I created a plan and I will be creating steps to the goal of creating it, if all goes well with keeping our home (via this modification nightmare).
What follows is how I will intend to make it real (IF we are still here, which is when I would begin work).

A Year from Now…

I picture myself next year getting up before the sun (watching a sunrise keeps me mindful of God and renews hope in the possibilities of a new day), collecting fresh eggs from my chicken coop, finishing my book and exploring the hills on the back of my pinto gelding in a new black Australian saddle that I will have earned with artwork.
My days will be full of color, new clothes (and a new look!), and clothes I’ve sewn for myself (also a ‘new’ look, lol), flowers everywhere, decadent paintings on the walls – oh wait, the walls are paintings!
The attic room will be transformed: it has an eccentric but decidedly feminine feel to it with all that painted furniture I rescued…and the walls, well here's how it is:

Better Than Dreams ~Making It Real
I like how someone said “Home is where your story begins”. 
She refers to decorating topics which are glorious to meander thru. However it’s a different meaning that I take from it- where I live is where my story begins, and of course I do have some decorating ideas which I keep in a binder and on disks… “but this isn’t about that”(it’s time to get used to that lead-in) this is about making the house fit my life, making it feel like home by reflecting our/my personality and our/ my needs, by incorporating what I dream about in a home.
Even if I have to make it myself.

But first, the vision….

I am sure that not everyone has a friend who can poetically express ideas in a visionary form like my friend does (yes, I’m green with envy myself!) But the process of focusing on those things is important to the creation of your vision - it is the first step!

 She wrote:
“I picture you next year collecting eggs from your chicken coop, finishing your book and exploring the hills on the back of your pinto. We’ll sit in the grass and watch the cloud animals float by…and I will write of thunderstorms and my Colorado friend who raises chickens at the foot of the mountains; who loved her horse enough to give him a name long before they ever met; who possesses the wisdom of the ancient pines and…
I can picture your attic room; it has a Victorian feel to it from your description…..and I see a beautiful rustic stone fireplace placed purposefully on the wall across from the windows. There is a beautiful throw in front of it with colors that match those of the stained glass, and it is adorned with an oversized chaise for private times away watching the world from your windows. The throw that adorns it is thick and worn from catching your dreams and keeping them within reach. The room smells of wood and turpentine, and everywhere I look I see bouquets of paintbrushes, virgin canvases and acrylics. In one corner there are library shelves filled with favorite novels and there is an eclectic assortment of art books scattered about. I hear Celtic music and I feel an overwhelming sense of well-being; warming and comforting; like I’ve found home…….Ahhh, yes…..I can taste the hot chocolate…”
(out of vanity I left the last part in, even if I have to admit she’s all wrong about how wise I am, lol)

So, what do you want? What do you see in your minds’ eye when you consider what you want, where you want to be? 
Sometimes that’s really all there is to it.
Once you have that idea firmly in mind you can pull it all together.
You take your idea, your dream (in my case, I have several working dreams in progress, but for now lets concentrate on the attic artist studio) - and you create a practical working GOAL.

First let me explain that I keep hold of the great ideas I’ve encountered over the years. I bet these would create a pile almost a foot high -of magazine clippings alone. I don’t know how many disks I have, maybe a dozen. But that includes everything from apron patterns to Christmas stocking ideas...

This is about the house - and that has its own binder. It is not the “Managing Paradise” binder (which has the master chore lists -seasonal tasks, etc.) or the warranties and manuals for things – all that important practical stuff. 
This is for dreaming big, and getting material information so that you can make concrete plans when you’re ready to. LOL, doesn't everyone want a kitchen remodel? 

This is my Dream Home Projects and Renovation Ideas (Binder)
For organizing and storage of photos, illustrations/clippings, drawings, how-to's, et al, which makes it a planning tool.
It has 2 sections~
“Interior” is sub-divided by “Room” Tabs
“Exterior” is sub-divided into ‘topic area’ tabs
(you could say “Inside” or “Outside”)
In the front is an index for the numbered tabs:
Under the “Interior” subject heading, are items like…
Theatre/Game Room - Tab # 10
Window Treatments - Tab #17
Murals – Tab #18  (I paint them too)
Under “Exterior” the topics are like…
Water Features - Tab #7
Chicken Coops- Tab #4
Landscaping -Tab #9
Greenhouses -Tab #10
*I printed out an aerial view of our property and circled and labeled each ‘area’ that may be designated under the tabs. This print out is in a page protector sheet just behind the Exterior subject page.
*Each tab is followed by a section for Business Cards (for resources, venders) – in a sheet to themselves (or you could use an old/unused photo book with sticky sheet or even tape or glue to thick paper).
*Because the collections of clippings are loose pieces of paper, I generally keep them in sheet protector pockets. There may be 2 or 3 pockets full for each topic, and I may have to pour them out onto a flat surface to view them, or find that picture I remember, but this is cheaper and easier than pasting them all onto paper and cutting out holes… although that is another viable alternative. (I just got lazy- after I did this with my recipe book, I didn’t want to do it again).
In the very back of the binder is a CD-keeper sheet – CD’s with photos of ideas I found online, and how-to info or fact sheets, labeled with one of the two main subject heading.
Interior: “Tabs 1 thru 3”, “Tabs 4 thru 5”, or Exterior: “Tabs 1 thru 4”
It may take a while to load each disk but this is much easier than looking thru 1000 random pictures on each disk – because each disk contains labeled folders for the topic – Chicken Coops, Outdoor D├ęcor (like wreaths)… (using Tab #s got a little bit too-organized, lol).
*Catalogues and brochures are best kept in a separate shoebox because they are so bulky -again I don’t bother with tabbed dividers that match the index of the binder – it’s one shoebox for “Interior” and one for “Exterior”

Ok, now that my OCD issues are cleared up… the finale:

Even tho’ our attic is windowless, and is only ½ finished (plywood floor, insulation, light fixtures so low you can't stand under them), I know that it will not be any time soon that it becomes another usable room. (Oh yeah, the pull-down ladder also sucks! It sounds like the springs are going to fly off and kill you!) 
It’s wasted space right now, although at one point the kids hung their hammocks up there and used it as a hideaway when company came. It gets too cold in winter and too hot in summer to live in.
You get the picture. This is just a small rectangular room that is partially finished so you could store boxes in it.

BUT, it could be a studio, an art studio. After all- no one goes up there and no one will care if paint gets everywhere. So I look at these pictures of inspired room additions and make-overs… and murals… and I get the idea that my “dream for an attic art studio” is something I really can accomplish. But how?

It will not match the description my friend has, for practical reasons-
1) We have no windows up there, we have a metal roof and a weird house exterior material we cannot just cut a hole in-even IF we could afford windows (which we can’t).
2) I am laughing just to think of a fireplace in the attic
3) I couldn’t fit any nice chair up the pull-down stairs
4) anyone over 5’ tall can’t stand full-height under the light-box fixtures

But, there are some elements I can work with:
1) the light fixtures are in the center of the room (great for direct lighting over a desk/table)
2) it’s private- my most artistic need, perhaps this is eccentric- but I can’t stand painting in front of people or sharing an unfinished painting… or even having distractions like clutter around.
3) plywood is somewhat cheap & easily put up
4) I can paint on the plywood, use primer coats to even out the roughness … perhaps fix the window issue with a mural of a window looking out onto a view…
5) and… I have experience painting murals and painting on plywood!

OH I'll have to share that with you:
(Thanks to HGTV shows, this is the unfinished faux painted floor in our old house- it was a gross linoleum from the 1960's, but I painted it to resemble Saltillo tile - adding black 'caulk' lines later and coating with  polyurethane. It was impossible to make the floor look worse, but aided my confidence in 're-purposing; things and taking a chance. I guess it was a successful project - the house sold in 8 days). 

Let’s see what happens next! 
(Ok, that really means I’m on hold until we find decide or discover what is happening with the house).

And what about you now? Are ideas popping into your head - or have you been inspired to give more thought to some idea that was gathering dust?

Seasonal Dreams...

“Hope smiles on the threshold of the year to come, whispering that it will be better.” - Alfred Lord Tennyson

I am determined to dream in color....
Economic news has been bleak for so long now and times have been tough, and there is yet no end in sight. But disparaging news, the unrelenting challenges of unexpected expenses while pinching our pennies doesn’t mean we are beaten down!

Even if the day is gray and your feet are cold; even if the phones are relentless (or completely dead); even if you have too much to do and no time to do it; even if the checkbook is empty and the mortgage is due; even if the car won’t start for the umpteenth time….wherever you find yourself today; whatever problems or issues you are forced to face today….remember this: Better Days are Coming, (eventually), but we've got to buckle down for this bumpy ride until then.

I don't know when 'then' is, nor how to truly plan for it - for who knows what the future has in store. But I speak from a place of hope. From that perspective, there are plenty of practical things to do, to get down to, and more on that later- this isn't about the practical things.

This is about getting my brain wrapped around the 'better days coming' concept so that any focus on practical things will be motivated. For what good is it to get thru the hard times only to end up where you were in life when it all started? I want to plan on "second chances" - to have a clear idea of where I want to be on the other side of it all, (if & when things begin to look up).

It starts with a dream, a vision of that day - where I am living the life that I drafted and worked to bring about. It starts with where I am now and what it will take from this point to bring that vision to reality.

This Winter '09

We live in a snowglobe, the fat slow flakes come drifting down like feathers – shutting out the world with it’s pure coat, secluding us in that special surreal ‘hush’ of muted sound when it settles.

But after the flurry we are often truly snowbound, surrounded by white glittering banks of snow, no way out to the main road (waiting for a snowplow that we have to pay extra). And by January the woodpile is down to a months' worth of warmth.

We own our own business and have a home office- on call from 7 to 7, but there are in-between times too:
With my morning coffee I catch the sight of the full moon setting alongside of the mountain. As winter lingers, the moon sets further and further to the South, so I watch for the signal we are returning to spring- when it progressively begins to move Northward toward the mountains again.

                                           (moon setting at 5am)

...This Winter I am ‘cocooning’. Winter is dream time…when the sky comes down and envelopes my world in gray so that I see more clearly what is at hand, the muse comes near and whispers her secrets in my ear, my thoughts too close in, and the dog at my feet lends a certain contentedness to the warm cocoon of the house. It's easy now to plan changes for the upcoming year, imagine the new wings I will have grown, wings of a different color, bigger wings that will take me farther than ever before - or to places I've never experienced.

There is chili in the crockpot, and shadows dance on the walls from candles burning in scents of cedar or honey. The soft haunting flutes and drum of American Indian music serenade us as we sip on hot cocoa, watching in awe the eagle that lands for the night on the branch of a nearby Ponderosa pine. We are mesmerized by the large bird, and watch it until the color has drained out of the sky and the sun fades over the edges of the earth.
I may spend time crafting (pillow cases with phrases and lullabies written on them) for all my grandchildren – the one I know, and those to come… and those with dolls to come…

In Spring... I’ll fill the house with wildflowers from the hills, and dry them between the pages of books to dress the house with cheer when the weather turns cold again... I’ll cover the bed with sheets fresh from the clothesline so that the house smells like the coming of the rain; I dream in watercolors.

I’ll wander the property collecting wood and kindling, looking up to watch cloud animals float by…and I will write about the silent lightening shows and thunderstorms and our Colorado Dream.

We talk of ponds and raising our favorite foods- enough to sell and share a bit. I wish to raise chickens and bees here at the foot of these mountains; to ride my beautiful, wild Cherihuka, a horse never yet ridden. (Training is my biggest personal challenge ever.)

In Summer... I will write ‘Morning Pages’ at my marble bistro table on the deck (the birds, the scent of pines, gentle light of a warm sun, make this a sacred place – the table was given to me years ago for Mothers’ Day by my eldest daughter who lives across the country).

(this is the bistro set in the yard of our last home)

I spend time weeding and raking and moving rocks around like a bird arranging the grasses of it’s nest; it’s never perfect, but it’s great exercise.
After we pull together a perfect meal around the BBQ (a shared endeavor with my husband). We sit and listen to the birds, and watch deer wandering among the trees –at ease here, enveloped in our own private wilderness. Often late in the day we will sit in the breeze on the deck drenched in tiny lights that sparkle off the water fountain. We watch the sun go down (this ends the work-day in quiet conversation). We watch the distant lightening of summer storms & the dramatic clouds lit by the changing colors of dwindling sunlight (this is the only drama we want).

I’m entertaining the idea of expanding our social life out to the deck this summer… play tick-tac-toe w/ painted rocks on a piece of extra floor tile (stone), and checkers on a handmade board with handmade painted pieces.
Serving frosty glasses of root beer floats and refreshing sangria punch.

Come Fall I will gather bushels of wild apples from the park along the river to feed the horse and toss out to the deer in the middle of winter.

The sun lingers long on the horizon to allow an extra half hour of work or play. The colors of the sky are ever-changing due to the mix of monsoon clouds and clear skies… a never-ending drama. It is a time of changing over to gray landscapes, but before that, I’ll collect colored leaves and pinecones and dip them in wax to preserve their vivid colors. I’ll dip candles to make gift sets of them.
I hope to share these days with guests playing horseshoes, to have bonfires, and to serve fully loaded fancy caramel apples, flavored toasted pumpkin seeds nuts, and cups of hot cider w/ cinnamon sticks.

Next Winter... 

my Cherihuka will spend his 'vacation' with a mare up the road. I will spend time pondering the next word, the next brush stroke, sipping hot cocoa in this retreat I created for myself in the attic. (On my to-do list).

It will be a room that says everything about who I am, surrounded by a mural of visual serenity that inspires my creative passions – one wall painted to look like a medieval window overlooking an ethereal blue-green forest.

Here I will write, and paint, and craft things. The room smells of honey scented candles, and everywhere are bouquets of paint brushes splattered with acrylic color. I wilI play my favorite soft and primal Celtic music and feel an overwhelming sense of well-being; warm and comforting; like I’ve found home… 
I will say, “Today ends the last chapter of my book, and a beginning chapter in my life”. 
I can taste the steaming hot cocoa already... 

Where do you see yourself a year from now? Will you begin a new chapter, or begin the end of one?
What will be different then, than now? 

I'd be pleased for you to share your vision!

In My Dreams; The art of "envisioning" in the creation of a dream

"All men dream; but not equally. 
Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find it was vanity. 
But dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.
This I did.” ~ T.E. Laurence (of Arabia) from The Seven Pillars of Wisdom

I kinda feel that God writes our Destiny but we determine our Fate. In between, we have free will but we also have deep callings, or, dreams. I believe these are inherent in humanity, as we are spurred on by our sense of Hope in our lives~like breathing, it keeps us going when we otherwise would give up and give in. 
(How hard is it to just decide to keep breathing ~even when we think we want to stop!) 

Do you ever feel like you’re going in circles or that life is passing you by,  just a blur you can’t stop to focus on? Life like a Merry-Go-Round~ the ride goes up and down: when you’re up above the fray we’re satisfied with how things are going, but when you’re down, the pressure is on and you’re screaming to get off. It’s hard to think straight, make decisions, or control direction.

So this is about keeping your eyes on the Prize (your dream come true) by catching the Brass Ring (grasping hold of your aspirations in a tangible way)~ being ready for it when it comes around again (opportunity knocking or creating the opportunity)! 
It is a way of designing, determining, our own destiny in this life; it is designing your life, and like a house, you can always re-decorate and build improvements that fit you better, best.

Remove walls if you have to.

I'll use this illustration from my own life to show how the art of envisioning your dreams works (I don’t really know how or why, and you can decide if it’s truly helpful - let me know if it is!) I think some people call it 'manifesting'...

This story is true:
My friend and I live 5 states apart and chat daily only thru e-mail (we work from home at desk jobs). Sometimes we play a little game of sorts, in which we envision some little virtual reality scene. 
It’s creative,  sometimes cute & sometimes beautiful, and it’s fun. It’s an escape into an escapade that we could never make happen in real life; it’s all a fantasy story. 
But that’s ok, because in the process we often discover things about ourselves or each other that take us in another direction or that  encourages a better frame of mind. (A great end in itself these days!) 
It’s a kind of virtual gift to each other. 

The stories evolve upon the thought of “ what if”. And that’s the point here.
As if the Universe can hear us when we voice our dreams out loud- (God is listening) - I'll elaborate this concept:
This friend and I share pictures we find online that make a statement of our mood for the day… One morning, she sent me a photo of some grand old oaks standing over a winding dirt road. It was a little misty around the edges, but the leaves were turning orange and light was streaming in through the branches - it set her imagination on fire.

She wrote about what we might have been doing in that scene if we’d grown up together and were traveling that road- stating in this fantasy visionary journey that we had horses waiting on the other side, hers a black Arabian mare, and mine a pinto (my biggest dream for the past 25 years).
Keep in mind that I had spent the last summer bemoaning my dream of owning another horse… and someone had just bought one (tall black & white pinto) up the road which I had to pass every trip into town and back, and I had a hard time driving past it without crying.

I spent a lot of time fighting back tears with silent pleas over that horse, because I envied the owner and coveted the horse, which made things worse on so many levels for me (a dream shouldn’t hurt so bad -or force one to face their ugly sides/ on their knees... right?)

But her prompting with this little virtual picture scene, to describe my “dream horse” caused me to think about it first in fantasy terms (“what if”), which caused me to DEFINE the terms of my dream horse realistically. What my true vision was. Here is my response:

“Ok my friend, how’s this?
.... The end of the road ends on a sight that takes our breath away - where golden light glows through an apple orchard! Our hearts are light as we laugh, running through the dry leaves, until out of breath. We stop to fill up the hoods on our sweaters with apples. Seeing each other panting that way just sets us to laughing again and we race each other to the stable.
There our biggest joy in life - always waiting to see us again –  a whinny and squeal to see us!  The closer we get , their heads tossing, squealing and pawing the ground, we see their perked ears, arched necks and urgent nickering. Quiet curiosity then, sniffing to see what we’ve got in our pockets!
Oh your beautiful exotic black mare, so sensitive to your moods and commands – will follow you anywhere as long as you’ve got sugar in your pocket!  She prances and quivers, ready to fly over the fields at a moments’ notice. Her halter and the rest of your tack is designed for precise action and reaction -  black and silver gleaming, it always looks brand new.
There next to her in stark contrast is my Cherihuka (oh yes, I already had a name for this horse - for it had to 'fit' my vision).
His  forelock forever unruly always seems to hang over one of his big eyes. (I would say blue eyes, but they don’t come that way).
No matter if I trim his whiskers and thin his mane, or brush him until he gleams even in the shade, he appears a wild thing: spotted in one place or another, with a blaze down his nose and feet stomping as if ready to run.
His tack is handmade with beads and braiding. Sometimes I paint figures of a kokopelli on his rump, or braid beads and feathers into his mane and tail. But appearances are deceiving! This mustang is really just a big pet – he goes everywhere and does everything with a gentle spirit. He has learned the limitations of his rider but most of all, there is a connection fostered by trust and mutual respect is apparent in his eyes.
I sure enjoyed our leisurely  tromp down the virtual dusty road this morning!”

Now I don't know if it was prayer, or the magical pull of my persistent thoughts out to the universe, but  it was not two months after this e-mail exchange (November of 2008) - that this horse was given to me out of the blue, and fitting my description to a ‘T’. He was mine.

I named him Cherihuka!

Today, just outside our bedroom window, in a corral that we built with our own determined hands (that got callused), is a beautiful spirited black horse with two icy blue eyes and a name that commemorates (to me) my own successful motherhood. (There's a background story for another time).

This horse is one more timely proof of God’s grace, that He listens, and cares. Or that dreaming causes some kind of reaction....
Cherihuka is my most enduring dream come true. 

My days are complete now, with the smell of leather and hay and I thrill to the sound of his soft nicker of recognition. He gives me motivation to rise each morning, and a reason to smile. 
He's a reminder that sometimes, if we’re lucky… real life is far better than any dream. (But, it started with a dream!)

What IF you had what you dreamed of? 
What could you do differently that will put you toward that result? Well why wait? Do some planning to do something differently NOW to push the possibilities closer to reality.
Now what will that first step be?

I advocate envisioning it!!!